Hugh Duffy of the Boston Red Sox at Comiskey Park in 1921.
- 3B, OF, SS, 2B, 1B, C
- Sir Hugh
- November 26, 1866
- 5' 7"
- 168 lbs
- Major League Debut:
- 6-23-1888 with CHN
- Allstar Selections:
- 1894 TC
- Hall of Fame:
A batting champion and two-time home run and RBI champion, Hugh Duffy earned his place in the Hall of Fame as one of the best players of the 1890s. For that decade he played more games, hit more homers, and drove in more runs than any other player in baseball. From 1892-1895, he and Tommy McCarthy were Boston's "Heavenly Twins" in the Beaneaters outfield, leading the club to a World Title and a National League crown. Later, with Billy Hamilton and Chick Stahl, Duffy formed an outstanding outfield from 1897-1899, sparking the Beaneaters to two National League titles.
Hugh Duffy is largely remembered for his amazing 1894 season, in which he hit .438, a mark that remains a major league record. But he was also a manager, executive, coach, and team owner, who was under contract in baseball for an incredible 68 years of his life.
Duffy was born in Cranston, Rhode Island, on November 26, 1866. After two seasons in minor leagues, he was scouted by Cap Anson, who signed Duffy to play for his Chicago White Stockings in the National League in 1888. It was the first of four major leagues that Duffy would play in, and he hit .300 in each of them.
At just over five-feet, seven-inches tall, Duffy was a small player who carried a heavy wallop in his bat. He had broad shoulders and powerful arms, and his range in the outfield was extraordinary. He was known as a sharp dresser, and he earned the attention of admiring female fans with his classic good looks.
In 1890, Duffy was one of many stars who jumped to the upstart Players' League, where he played under Charles Comiskey. After a season with Boston in the American Association in 1891, when he batted .341 with 83 stolen bases, Duffy was lured back to the National League by Frank Selee of the Boston Beaneaters.
With Boston, "Sir Hugh" enjoyed his best seasons, and gained tremendous popularity with fans after he was teamed with fellow outfielder Tommy McCarthy, also a product of the northeast. Duffy in center field and McCarthy in right (and later left) were dubbed "The Heavenly Twins" by adoring Boston bleacherites. The duo played four seasons together, helping the Beaneaters to two pennants.
In 1894, Duffy hit .438 with 236 hits in 124 games, 160 runs scored, 50 doubles, and 18 home runs, many of the inside-the-park variety. Duffy remained in center field for Boston through the 1900 season, before jumping to the upstart American League, where he played a major role in establishing the circuit as a rival to the N.L. As a conduit to players, Duffy helped convince several N.L. stars to bolt for the A.L., and he helped choose the location of Huntington Avenue Grounds, where the Boston Americans played. By 1906, Duffy's long career as player was over, but he stayed in the game as a minor league team owner, and managing the Phillies, White Sox, and Red Sox in three stints from 1904 to 1922.
Later in the 1920s, Duffy coached the baseball team at Harvard University, while also scouting for the Red Sox, keeping his ties to Boston strong. While under contract with the Red Sox, Duffy tutored a young Ted Williams in the 1930s, saying of Williams, "He's the greatest hitter it has been my pleasure to look at, and don't forget, I've been looking at Hugh Duffy in the shaving mirror for many a year."
Duffy was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1945, and died on October 19, 1954, in Boston. For his career, Duffy hit .330 in 1,722 games, with 2,307 hits, 1,545 runs scored, and 103 home runs.
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